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Playing with Fire Part 1

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
April 25, 2024 12:00 am

Playing with Fire Part 1

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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April 25, 2024 12:00 am

Have you ever felt the seductive pull of temptation? That nagging voice that promises a thrill but ultimately leads to destruction? In this riveting episode, Stephen explores the downfall of Samson, a man who possessed incredible strength yet couldn't resist his own desires. Join us as we unpack his story and discover the critical lessons we can learn about the dangers of compromise, the devastating consequences of sin, and the profound hope of redemption in God's grace.

A New Beginning
Greg Laurie

What's the best thing you can do when it comes to sin and temptation?

Here's Steven Davey. Run for the sake of your family. Run for the sake of your testimony. Run for the sake of your integrity. Run for the sake of your spiritual vitality. Run for the sake of your church, your brothers and sisters. Run for the sake of your own future. You cannot, you cannot tame a blazing fire. Run for your life.

If you've ever found yourself in a situation where fire broke out and you needed to escape, you would move as quickly as you possibly could to reach safety. Shouldn't you respond the same way when it comes to sin and temptation? Steven Davey would say yes. This is Wisdom for the Heart and we're continuing through a series entitled, Breaking Up Stony Ground. Steven's been looking at issues of sin that can take root in your heart and offering you solutions for dealing with those issues.

Today, Steven begins the last message in this series and it's called, Playing with Fire. In his book, The Quest for Character, Chuck Swindoll quotes from an article published by the United States Chamber of Commerce. It was obviously published a long time ago. I mean, a long time ago, but the principles remain true. The article published by the chamber came under the title, How to Train Your Child to be a Delinquent. This was published a long time ago, okay?

Probably wouldn't even publish it now. The truth remains. This article sets the stage in many ways for what we're going to talk about. How to train your child to be a delinquent, 12 steps. Don't write these down.

You don't want to remember them, okay? Number one, when your child is still young, give him everything he wants when he wants it. This way, he'll grow up thinking the rest of the world owes him a living too. Number two, when he picks up swearing and off-color jokes, laugh along with him or at him.

And as he grows older, it might not be funny anymore, but now it's cute. Number three, never give him any spiritual training. Wait until he's 21 and then let him decide for himself.

Number four, avoid using the word wrong. It will give your child a guilt complex. You can condition him to believe later when he is arrested for stealing a car that society is against him and he is being persecuted. Number five, pick up after him. His books, shoes, clothes, do everything for him so he will be experienced in throwing all responsibility onto others. Six, let him read or watch anything he wants to. Never think of monitoring him. Oh yes, sterilize the silverware, but let him feast his mind on garbage.

This was published a long time ago. Number seven, argue frequently in front of him so that he could know how to take advantage of division in the home. Number eight, satisfy every craving he has for food, drink, and comfort.

Every sensual desire must be gratified because denial may lead to irritation or frustration. Number nine, give your child all the spending money he wants. Don't make him earn any of it. Why should he have it as tough as you did growing up? Number 10, take his side against your spouse, the neighbors, his teachers, and later on the police. Number 11, when he finally grows old enough to get into real trouble, make up excuses for yourself by saying, well, you know, we never could do anything with him. I guess he was just a bad seed.

Number 12, prepare for a life of grief and regret for everyone involved. As the biography of Samson opens in the book of Judges, it opens with a spoiled, petulant, selfish, rebellious young man who has already brought years of grief, no doubt, to his parents. Now, while it isn't their fault that he has no interest in the ways of God, by the way, no parent can do anything to guarantee spiritual interest. I have seen parents with absolutely no spiritual interest at all have children with great spiritual interest. It isn't their fault.

However, it is, in a way, for helping to pave the path. We looked at it briefly. Samson begins to slide, and you may remember in chapter 14, this biography opens with a sinful demand where he effectively stamps his feet with this pouty, immature, sinful demand where he says, I saw a woman, and she's one of the Philistines down in the village of Timna. Go and get her for me. And they should have said, no way.

You are on your own. We're not going to subsidize your sin. Instead, we have to read between the lines, and I'm guessing, but they may have likely debated in the back bedroom, well, yeah, it's true she's a pagan Philistine, but who knows? Maybe this will settle them down. Maybe this will, you know, get them to behave. Besides, every other family around us in these days when everyone does what is right in their own eyes have married off a kid or two to pagan Philistines, so why?

Why fight it? Let's just let them get ready for years of grief beyond this. Nowhere in Samson's biography, by the way, the scripture specifically point a finger at Samson's mother and father. In fact, I think due to their commitment to him, the Lord rescues them from their own compromise, which you can only imagine troubled them, because if you were with us in our last study, the marriage never consummates. If you look over at verse 20 of chapter 14, you discover that before the wedding ceremony is even over, that is on the eighth day, the Philistines effectively annul the marriage and she is given to be the wife of Samson's best man. And Samson doesn't settle down either. In fact, he goes on a rampage and he kills a thousand Philistine men. Immediately following that battle, and I'm going to survey for the sake of time so that this isn't a three-parter, it's just a two-parter, but he complains to God because he's thirsty. I'm thirsty and there's no water fountain nearby and God in his grace opens up a hollow of ground and a spurt of water comes out, a fountain, and Samson satisfies himself, but there's no mention of gratitude. Well, God, thank you for that.

None at all and no repentance either. Now, we divided up Samson's biography into three chapters in this case study of temptation. And I want to give you one word for each chapter. We called the first chapter with the word sliding, just simply that, sliding. Samson is governed by his eyes.

He is sliding on the toboggan of lust and it is only going to pick up more and more speed over time. The scene opened with Samson sliding downward by visiting a prostitute in Gaza. You remember in chapter 16 where he was trapped and instead of staying in the city, he picked up the city gates and carried them off on his shoulders.

And he is more a legend than ever. It's Samson the invincible. Never mind that Samson is immoral. It might be Samson the strong man, but he's far from being Samson the satisfied man. Anyone on the toboggan slide of lust is far from being satisfied. In fact, one author penned one of the most perceptive definitions of lust ever written about 100 years ago.

Lust is the craving for salt by a man who is dying of thirst. The trouble is here, and this is all the more dangerous to Samson, it doesn't look like he's dying. He's winning. He's stronger than ever. And he doesn't look like he's sliding down anywhere. He's on the mountain top.

He goes from one peak to the next. And what matters most to the children of Israel and to Samson is that he appears to be the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. It's time now to watch him get introduced to a featherweight named Delilah. We're going to call this next chapter in Samson's life by this one word, crashing.

From sliding to finally crashing. Let's rejoin the narrative here at chapter 16 and verse 4. After this, that is after some time, he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah.

Now stop there for just a moment. This happens to be the first time we've ever been given the impression that Samson loved anybody besides himself. He's evidently struck by her. Given his life, more than likely she's attractive. He's struck by her enough to stay longer than one night. In fact, I found it interesting in my study that the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament, and I wanted to look it up to find out for sure and I was surprised to find it, but they have used the word agape here, which is a volume. It tells us that Samson is committing his life to her in loyal, faithful love and to her alone.

So something's happened here over these years. I think it's helpful to understand there's more than meets the eye. First of all, you could make the observation that she is not a prostitute, which for Samson is a big improvement. What's more, we're never told that Delilah is a Philistine. In fact, the truth is she isn't. Old Testament scholars point out the fact that her name is Semitic, not Philistine. Listen, she happens to be a Jewish woman with Hebrew blood flowing in her veins. According to the biblical record, she's the first Jewish woman Samson has been interested in.

And I think it's also helpful, by the way, as we go into a text that's somewhat familiar to sort of rewrite some of our thinking, and one of them would be this. Samson by this time is middle-aged, not like me in my late 30s, 37 or 38. He's middle-aged. Several decades have passed here since chapter 14 introduced us to this hot-headed, young man who demanded that his parents arrange a marriage with a Philistine girl.

Not now. Keep in mind that the Bible often in its biographical descriptions condenses, squeezes, compresses the narrative so that you, in a matter of two chapters, literally cover 20 years of a person's life. That's what's happening here. Now, we're not told how much time elapsed between chapter 14 and chapter 16, verse 3. In fact, between verse 3 and verse 4, there is some time that has elapsed.

We do know this. By the time you arrive at verse 4 of chapter 16, Samson is in his middle years. So erase from your mind, you know, at this point that Samson looks like Hercules. He's middle-aged and rather worn down. By now, he's judged Israel for 20 years. He's battle-scarred from numerous fights, and because of his immoral life, he never settled anywhere. All that together has taken a toll on his vitality. It's certainly going to take a toll on his discernment, as we're going to see. But we have every reason to believe that Samson here decides to settle down. He's going to finally settle down.

Twenty years just going from one city to the next. The implication is from one woman to the next, not now. He has made a choice which makes this betrayal all the more tragic. Samson has no idea that temptation has been waiting until this round to deliver the knockout punch.

He has no idea he is about to be set up. By the way, the devil is more than happy to wait 20 years to bring you down. Before we, in fact, go any further, let me make a couple of observations about temptation. First, temptation usually includes some justifiable need. For Samson, that represented the need to settle down and establish a long-term relationship with a woman from among his people.

He's close, but still compromising. Secondly, temptation usually distracts us from any potential disaster. Remember, temptation is only the commercial. Temptation doesn't show up with a photograph of what we're going to look like, what life is going to look like, what relationships are going to look like, what our conscience is going to look like. If you could have shown Samson a photograph at this point in his life of himself a year from that point, he would not have believed it. That he is this weary man bent over from hard labor with empty eye sockets chained to a millstone, grinding wheat in a Philistine prison. There is no way.

That's me. Temptation never shows you the photograph of things to come. Verse 5, and the lords of the Philistines came up to her, privately of course, and said to her, seduce him. That is, see where his great strength lies and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to humble him.

Now, I think I mentioned this in our last study. There are five major Philistine cities at this time, each ruled by a lord that is a dictator king. All five of them come to Delilah with a proposal. In fact, they sweeten the pot. Look at the last part of verse 5. And we will each give you 1,100 pieces of silver. Judas sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. She's going to get 5,500 pieces, which is a long way of saying she will be set for life, never mind love anymore. Her character has a price and they just met it. She secretly agrees. Verse 6, so Delilah said to Samson, please tell me where your great strength lies and how you might be bound that one could subdue you. Now, before you think, oh, come on, how obvious can you get? This girl is no actress, trust me.

She just says, you know, how can I subdue you? Well, you would think he'd be suspicious. And I think we need to think again. He has been asked this question a thousand times over the past decades. We have every reason to believe that only Samson and his parents knew this particular part of the vow. It had been made between them and God that he would never cut his hair. People had been asking him for ages, Samson, what's your secret?

By the way, the fact that she has to ask this makes us need to sort of rewrite this perception we have. Samson evidently doesn't look like Mr. Universe. So there has to be a secret.

He might have looked like any ordinary man, and I believe he did. That's why they know there's some kind of secret. All that to say, this question from Delilah isn't really unusual. In fact, I believe it's expected. Why? Because they love each other.

They have now moved in together. There are no secrets. Samson, if you love me, look, you've got a secret. If we ever want to be where we ought to be, we shouldn't keep secrets from one another. So tell me, what's the secret to your amazing strength?

A very honest, expected, anticipated question. That's why alarm bells weren't ringing in Samson's thick head. Samson responds in verse 7. Note there, well, if they bind me with seven fresh bow strings that have not been dried, then I shall become weak and be like other men. Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven fresh bow strings that had not been dried, and she bound him with them.

Now, once again, we have to correct our mental image. There's no mention that Samson goes to sleep. There's no mention he goes to sleep after each of these experiments.

He will, but not here. There's no mention that she binds him while he's sleeping. In fact, how could you wrap bow strings around a man's body when he's asleep? I would venture to suggest that Samson isn't asleep. He's toying with her. They're actually playing a game that one Old Testament scholar called, Samson, let's play.

The Philistines are coming. Let's play. Okay. Well, how can I subdue you? Well, wrap these bow strings around me. Okay.

Okay. And she wraps them around him and then says, Samson, the Philistines are upon you. And he snapped the bow strings, the text says, as a thread of flax snaps when it touches the fire.

By the way, at this point, there's something else we probably need to correct. There's no reference to Philistines rushing out to grab him and he snaps them and fights them and kills them. No, they stay hidden in an inner chamber until they're sure the secret is the real secret and it isn't and they stay hidden. Samson has no idea they're in the attic. Delilah no doubt plays along, tries hard not to show too much disappointment, but she pouts.

I mean, she has a point. The man who says he loves her won't let her into the secret place of his heart and life. Notice verse 10, then Delilah said to Samson, behold, you're mocking me. You're telling me lies. Please tell me how you might be bound.

In other words, tell me the secret to who you are. And he said, well, if they bind me with new ropes that have not been used, then I shall become weak and be like any other man. Now between this verse and the next is at least a day or two, maybe more. Delilah is either purchasing or she has delivered to her new ropes. Then she says to him, you know, one evening, hey, let's play that game again. You remember that secret you told me? Oh, let's just try it. I'm going to see if you're really telling me the truth. And she wraps him with rope. Notice the text reads, but he snapped the ropes off his arms like a thread. Now from the way the narrative unfolds, Delilah immediately says to Samson, verse 13, until now you have mocked me and told me lies.

Tell me how you might be bound. Again, beloved, I think here's what's happening. Look, I love you and you say you love me and I want to know what makes you tick and you keep making fun of me. You keep laughing at me by withholding the secret. You're just toying with me, coming up with these strange things. It isn't funny, Samson. You shouldn't keep secrets from me any longer if we're ever going to make it any further.

Tell me how you might be bound. Would you notice for the first time Samson comes dangerously close to the truth. For the first time he mentions his hair, verse 13, the middle part, and he said to her, if you weave the seven locks of my hair, you weave my braids with the web and fasten it tight with the pin, then I'll become weak.

I'll be like any other man. Let me just kind of paraphrase what happens in our vernacular. So while he slept, this time he's sleeping, Delilah effectively wound his braided hair into a small portable weaver's shot hole she had nearby. And then she said, Samson, the Philistines are coming. But he awoke and disentangled his hair from the loom and in the process ruined her sewing machine. And she said, watch this verse 15, how can you say you love me when your heart is not with me?

That's why the danger signs aren't flying around. He has no idea Philistines are hiding in the attic. She's saying, how can you say you love me when the very secret of your heart that governs your life is kept from me? I'm just trying to figure out who you are, Samson. Verse 16, and when she pressed him hard with her words, day after day, see some time is going by now and urged him his soul was vexed to death. Let's learn here that temptation resisted does not mean temptation grows weaker.

Sometimes it grows stronger and more stubborn and more persistent. Steven has more to say on the topic of sin and how you can deal with your sin. However, we're going to stop right here for today.

We're just about at the end of our time. So we'll bring you the conclusion to this message on our next broadcast. If you joined us late, you've tuned in to Wisdom for the Heart. This is the Bible teaching ministry of Steven Davey.

He's in a series called Breaking Up Stony Ground. This series looks at issues that can take root in the heart of the Christian and practical strategies that you can use to deal with those issues. If you'd like to have this series in your library of biblical resources, it's available as a set of CDs. We can give you information on how you can get a copy of this set if you call us today. We'd enjoy hearing from you today and helping you get a copy of this resource for yourself. You can also go back and listen to all of the previous messages in this series on our website. They're posted at You can listen to the full length version of Steven's message or read his manuscript if you prefer. All of that content is available to you free and on demand at And of course, when you get to the website, you're going to find much more than this series. Steven's been teaching the Bible for four decades and all of that content is available to you. I hope you'll take advantage of these resources. If you'd like to send Steven a message, address your email to info at

If you have a question about our ministry or a comment to share, we'd love to hear from you. Join us next time on Wisdom for the Heart. I'll see you in the next video. I'll see you in the next video. I'll see you in the next video.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-25 01:06:24 / 2024-04-25 01:15:35 / 9

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